I walk along our stretch of beach a couple of times a week and have done in all weathers for the last three years. It’s never the same twice, and that’s why I love it. There’s hardly anyone there, often utterly deserted, or with a few fishermen with lines out to sea. Dogwalkers are often the only people you see and as the weather deepens into winter, only the really hardy venture out. The wind comes in off the North Sea tasting of Siberia and the waves are wild and high, even when there’s no storm.
It’s interesting to see what washes up or is thrown up but anything edible, from stranded fish to discarded sandwiches the fishermen leave behind is gobbled up by the ravening hordes of sea birds that patrol the shoreline incessantly. I’ve been seeking to find a photograph of a fish out of water, to illustrate a novel I wrote a few years ago but in the three years I’ve been here, I have never come across a stranded and unmutilated fish. Apart from a few pipefish, which hardly look like fish at all, I’ve never seen a fish lying on the shore. I’ve found lobsters, and crabs and even a young seal but never an intact fish. Of course, I could always have found a photo somewhere, but that didn’t feel right.
Today in sunshine and brisk winds, I reached the shore and after few moments, I saw it. About six or eight inches long, black eyes staring sightlessly up at me, this discard from the fisherman nearby, lay a silvery fish. Cursing that for once I had forgotten my camera, I whipped out my phone and took a snap with that and as I bent closer, the lower jaw of the fish moved and I knew it wasn’t dead at all. I picked it up and put in carefully back in the sea and when nothing floated belly-up in the surf, I realised I had found it in time and it had swam away.
We use the term Fish Out Of Water when we mean we are out of our element, out of our true and natural setting and feeling uncomfortable about it. The truth of it is that a fish out of water is very soon a dead fish. Today, with so many things whirling round my mind, I had a sign that not only was I to be returned to my natural element and be revived but also that some of my plans are heading in the right direction. I can’t explain any more than this because there are so many other factors involved but this incident felt so very numinous and powerful beyond measure.
I think the fish might be quite pleased too….